October 15, 2013

Project Baby: phase one complete

Remember that project I've been working on for the last 9 months? Well, overachiever that I am, I finished 3 weeks early!

Or perhaps, this little guy is the overachiever? He must have known that Mama was ready to not be pregnant anymore and decided to oblige. Regardless, he arrived on October 4th, with a full head of hair and eyes wide open - and healthy to boot. What more could we ask for?

We've been settling in at home, with the help of Nonni (who has been filling up our freezer with food), and have even ventured out a little in the last few days.

We've had lots of visitors and have received some wonderful congratulations from friends, family and even clients!  We've been trying to get some sleep too, but it's so hard to sleep when we can't stop staring at this little "being" that we've created!

We're excited for Project Baby: phase two!

September 30, 2013

Stretching 2 yards of Stretch Terry

Yesterday I got a little sewing mojo back and brought out both my sewing machine and my serger to complete a few projects on my list. On Saturday I ventured down to the Mill End store to pick up terry cloth with the goal of making washcloths and towels for the baby, and I ended up scoring a great deal on 2+ yards of turquoise cotton stretch terry in the mill end section.

The stretch terry is super soft, and I wanted a slightly rougher fabric for the flip side in case the baby has cradle cap, so I also picked up a half yard of plain white cotton terry cloth that was slightly rougher. I kept it simple by tracing a rounded corner rectangle onto the fabric and then serged the two fabrics wrong sides together: quick and easy!

I also wanted a couple of dedicated baby towels, so I doubled up on the stretch terry, once again serging the edges together to create 2 baby-sized towels.

And since I still had some terry cloth left, I decided to make a couple of "kerchief drool bibs".

I have a friend who's baby drooled so much while teething that she just kept a bib on him at all times to help protect his clothes from being wet all the time. This seemed to work well, but I'm not a big fan of the look of bibs, so when I saw one of these "kerchief bibs" in a photo of a friend's teething baby I figured it was a much more stylish alternative.  Each bib is essentially two triangles sewn together and secured at the back with velcro. I could have used snaps, but I'm hoping the velcro will ensure that they will fit regardless of how pudgy his neck is.

September 27, 2013

Portland Baby Shower

The second weekend of September brought about our 2nd Baby Shower!

Since we live in Portland, and our friends here couldn't really travel up to Washington the weekend before, Remi and Andrew graciously offered to throw us a backyard afternoon party - and managed to schedule it on the very last day of beautiful weather before the rain set in.

Trevor, Ryan, Mike and Fereidoon enjoy the food and beer

Looking, and feeling, 34 + weeks pregnant

Most of our friends here have children under the age of 4, and it was a ton of fun to see them all running around the yard and interacting with each other. It made Mike and me happy to know that our kiddo will be joining the fray soon.

Andrew attempts to corral the kiddos

The food and company were fabulous and everybody was more than generous with gifts. Now I have to buckle down and get all those "thank you" notes out!

Freya is very excited to meet her new baby boy cousin

September 22, 2013

Baby Guitar

Last week my niece Elle turned 1 - where did the last 12 months go? While I feel like my pregnancy has been going on forever, it feels like the rest of the world has just sped by.

To mark Elle's birthday I made her a mini guitar from felt and velveteen. I used a free pattern online for a ukelele, and basically just added more strings. I also added a band all around the outside so that it resembled a guitar more, and looked less like a flat pillow. The strings are made thin cotton yarn, and I tacked it down every 3" or so. And I used white pearl snaps for the "tuning" keys.

Sadly, I don't have any photos of the guitar other than this awesome one of Elle. I got a new camera for my birthday and accidentally reformatted the camera card before I took the photos off of it. But you get the idea...

September 9, 2013

Bow Baby Shower

This project is still cooking.

Here's a photo of me at 33.5 weeks. This was taken last weekend at my Mom's house during a baby shower (for the kid lovingly nicknamed "Buck" by his aunties).

Mom and Susanna put together a great shower, and we were lavished with all sorts of amazing gifts, attention, hugs and well-wishes. Soon I will post some of the great  gifts that we received; many of which were handmade, which I am extremely grateful for since I don't seem to have much creativity mojo in me to make anything for my son.

Here are a few shots of the party:

Peter Rabbit

"Bunny Tails" Cake Pops

Flowers from Mom's garden


Freshly caught and smoked salmon, courtesy of Mark, along with pretzel rolls, manchego & fig, and cucumber tea sandwiches

Empanadas! Mom and I spent the morning making these in assembly-line fashion.

Mike shows off his best "soothing sway"

August 1, 2013

The "Island Cover" from Hell

I finally started sewing again!  It actually happened a month ago over the 4th of July weekend. I made myself pull out the sewing machine and run to the fabric store, and before I knew it, I had finished projects to show for it.

I started by tackling a project that I've meant to do since last fall - a table cover for our IKEA butcher block island. I thought it would be a nice easy project to ease back into sewing, but it turned out to be the most difficult table cover ever.

I decided to make it similar to the one I made for our coffee table, which was made with laminated cotton, and has been great for protecting the table from spills and cup rings.

I had a piece of laminated cotton that I love, and I'd been using it as an unfinished table cloth on the butcher block, but I only had about half a yard and I couldn't find any more of it. I don't even know who made it, but I wish I had picked up yards of it, as all of the colors work so well in our house.

I got the idea to use it, but to add a border around it so that it would fit the required dimensions. I went to Bolt to see if I could find a solid color to pair with it, but they don't carry solids. They did have a "wood grain" oilcloth however, so I thought that would be the next best thing.

Unfortunately I made this purchase without thinking it through and came away with the following realizations:
1) sewing through multiple layers of oilcloth is a pain.
2) measure before you purchase fabric.

I got home, measured the table and realized that I didn't buy a long enough length of oilcloth and would therefore have to piece it together on the long sides.

I used Adobe Illustrator to draft up a pattern that included pieced together sides, mitered corners, and drop sides. With all that precise measuring and drafting I was hoping for a sharp looking finished product.

I ended up with corners like this:

Apparently my measurements were off somewhere.

Ultimately, the finished product is still very useable, though not without a lot of headache.

I ended up binding the edges of the laminated cotton with bias tape, then sewing that on top of the oilcloth border. I then added the drop down sides (returns). Those sides would not stay flat! So I had to then top stitch them to the seams inside. It was a long and arduous process, and my sewing machine did not like all those layers of oilcloth. I realized that the coffee table cover was so much easier because I used a single layer of laminated cotton and the table returns were angled, making the cover stay on quite nicely.

That said, I'm glad I got back into sewing and ended up with a practical finished project. And perhaps it was better to start off with something difficult - it'll all seem like cake from here on.

July 25, 2013

Boiled & Baked Bagels

A couple of weekends ago I decided to try my hand at making boiled bagels. I have been wanting to make them for a very long time, but we now have a great local restaurant that makes wood-fired bagels so I haven't really had the need to make them. But the restaurant is undergoing some changes, and this means that their hours and menu items have been a little wonky. It was starting to irritate me, and motivate me, to make my own.

I used the bagel recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day, I made up the dough on Saturday night, then retarded it in the fridge so that we could have fresh bagels on Sunday morning.  I estimated that it would only take me about an hour on Sunday to make them up, but I sorely under-estimated. It actually took two hours, and should have taken a little longer because I think the dough could have done with a little extra rising time. I was slowed down a little by boiling the bagels in smaller batches, so next time I might have two pots of water going at a time.

The recipe says that it'll make 20 bagels, so I halved it because I didn't want 20 bagels around the house tempting me. We ended up getting 9 bagels out of the batch - each one +/- 3 oz.

 3 oz. dough balls rising on the pan.

Bagel shapes formed and boiling in water, baking soda and sugar. 

 Boiled bagels resting on a floured dish towel to make sure the excess water is gone. 

I will say that no matter how much flour I put on that towel, the bagels always stuck. This was a flour sack towel, so next time I'll try a different one to see if that makes a difference.

Finished bagels, with a sprinkling of kosher salt on top. 

The bagel circumference is a fairly standard size, but the height of the bagels is a bit shallow. I sliced the first one, but on the second one I just slathered the cream cheese right on top. Next time I'll let them rise a bit longer to see if that makes a difference. I will say that they turned out delicious! We froze half of them as well, and they are still really chewy after defrosting.

While it's definitely easier to run down to the bagel shop and buy bagels, I happen to believe that the boiled ones are the best. If you don't have a local shop making boiled bagels, then making your own is absolutely worth it. And the same recipe can be used for Bialy's and rolls. I actually made both of those last weekend, and they were equally delicious!

July 17, 2013

My favorite photo of Mike and our niece Elle

Today is my love's birthday.

He does not love his birthday.

He has an issue with time passing.

This year, more than ever, I encourage him to focus on the moments. 
To not be a "big picture" person (I'll handle that).
To enjoy being himself, a husband and a papa.

Happy birthday, love.

July 7, 2013

It's blueberry season in Oregon!


On Friday I took my stepsister Remi's advice and headed out to Sauvie Island Farms to pick blueberries ($2/lb); the berries were large, sweet and easy picking.

And I got two large mixing bowl's worth for $11!

I froze some of them, left a bunch out for eating, and decided to make a couple of mini pies. I thought we'd freeze one and eat the other, but they were just too delicious...

I used the crust recipe from the book A Passion for Baking (All-Butter, One-Egg Pie Dough) and the pie filling recipe from here. I varied the filling by using 4 TB of cornstarch and replacing one cup of blueberries with one cup of raspberries. I also reduced the temp to 400ยบ and the bake time to 30 minutes since the pies were so small - perfect!

Since I was in the baking mood, I also made a loaf of Sally Lunn Bread, and on Saturday used the day-old bread to make french toast, using Alton Brown's recipe. While the recipe required more steps than I've ever taken to make french toast, this turned out to be my best french toast ever. So that's saying something for Alton Brown (and the blueberries)!

July 1, 2013


I have not sewn a damn thing in 5 months.

Nor have I needle-felted or crocheted. I have barely even cooked.

I have managed to clean the bathroom a few times, and keep the laundry from piling up too high, and I've even gotten to the grocery store on a bi-weekly basis. And I can't even blame it on my nausea anymore, as luckily that has passed. I had no idea that pregnancy would just drain the project-motivation right out of me.  I'm looking at July as a possible month to get something fun/crafty accomplished - but don't hold me to it.

When I got pregnant I had all these plans to sew maternity clothes (Megan Nielson has a great maternity collection), but even that quickly became unappealing. Lucky for me, my sister Sara has an amazing assortment of maternity clothes, in my size and style no less. When Sara visited in June she brought an extra suitcase of clothes for me. I am immensely grateful to have an entire new wardrobe of clothes that fit, and that I didn't even have to shop for. Word of advice - if you have a friend with great style, get pregnant right after they have a baby.

Amazingly, I did find a few handmade tops in my wardrobe that I rarely ever wore because they made me look pregnant, and now they fit perfectly! One is the Wiksten Tova in dotted flannel:

Another is the Amy Butler Long Top:

And now I have the version I made Sara too!

Lastly, I made another version of the Washi Tunic in flannel that I never blogged about because the fit wasn't great. I finally figured out that the bodice size that fit my measurements was actually too large and that was the cause for the large gap in front. Sadly I made three Washis before I figured this out. Lucky for me, my increased bust and rib cage size (side effect of pregnancy) means that the top fits better now that it ever did.

And I don't even mind looking pregnant!

May 15, 2013

One Intense Project

Boy, the last four months have not been my friend in terms of projects. Aside from work and travel, I have spent all of my time on just one project.

It's springtime, so I've been growing this:

While it would have been a lot more fun if this bump was the result of 17 weeks of beer-guzzling, instead there is an actual "being" in there!

And that "being" has kicked my ass for the last 2.5 months. But I see the light at the end of the nausea/exhaustion tunnel, and I'm actually giving consideration to sewing something again!

I thought about sewing maternity clothes, but I may ease myself back into it by sewing up a toy or a pair of baby pants. We'll see. I have a 3-day weekend with some rain in the forecast, so perhaps I'll dust off the old Pfaff.

In the meantime, pregnancy has not held Mike back from projects. He's continued work on sinking fence posts in the front yard, and staining planter boxes.

Thank goodness something is getting done around here!

April 23, 2013

Some of my favorite (and not so) things

I'm still here. Just been working on a big project and have been out of town, so I've had no time to post about the little projects. Someday soon, hopefully!

Til then..

a Favorite
The sun is shining today (and should all week) and I am wearing sandals.

Not a Favorite
The alarm surprised me this morning when it went off, and I really resented it.

a Favorite
My neighbor made breakfast rolls yesterday and sent two over to us. So I had a great breakfast this morning.

Not a Favorite
I have to do laundry when I get home.

a Favorite
I get to go shopping for birthday presents for two little boys this weekend. That means I have an excuse to go into a toy store!

March 31, 2013


March was not a great project month for me. The highlight of the month was a trip to Denver for a work conference. The conference took place over three days, and was pretty jam-packed, but my colleague and I flew out a day early to try and see a few sights. We managed to just miss a major storm, and arrived to 14" of fresh snow and sunny blue skies.

After checking into the The Curtis hotel, we trekked down to the civic/cultural district.

Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum was far too large for us to explore thoroughly, but from what I did see, my favorite exhibit was "Fox Games".

Denver Art Museum

We also made it to the Clyfford Still Museum, which was fabulous throughout. It's very easy to make it through the whole museum in a couple of hours (just about my limit on museum tours).

Clyfford Still Museum

Clyfford Still Museum

 There is no shortage of large exterior sculptures in Denver.

Outside the Denver Public Library

"I See What You Mean"
Denver Convention Center

Downtown Denver
The old Tivoli Brewery, now a Student Union on the Auraria Campus

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